Document Type



Institute for Educational Development, East Africa


The voices of the main stakeholders in literacy and schooling – pupils and parents – have seldom been given adequate space in studies of school and classroom discourse in sub-Saharan Africa. The present paper attempts to redress this imbalance by presenting the voices of pupils from a multilingual urban primary school in Ghana and of parents from a rural bilingual school in Zimbabwe. The Ghanaian study highlights challenges associated with using an unfamiliar language, English, as the medium of instruction, selective teacher treatment in the classroom that leaves some children lacking confidence to participate and the strong influence of the home environment and other socio-economic conditions. The Zimbabwean study highlights what happens when parents are allowed a voice in their children's education. It is argued that pupil and parent perspectives can validate the findings of existing research, deepen our understanding of classroom interaction and, in some cases, challenge conventional wisdom.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Language and Education